Fathers Honorat (28 years old), Martin (24) and Sumien (25) were conducting a parish mission in the village of Condoulet. These three young Oblates were full of zeal and enthusiasm, and Eugene was concerned about them burning themselves out.

I insist on you taking at least seven hours of sleep.

They need to get things in perspective and do only what they are capable of doing – without believing themselves indispensable.

Those not able to come to confession one day will come on another and, even if they do not manage to do so, I do not take back my order.
I embrace these dear missionaries, it is hard for me not to go on any of their campaigns. May the good God heap on you his most abundant graces. For my part, I bless you in his name and I love you. Adieu.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 22 January 1828, EO VII n291

Eugene’s advice continues to apply to ministry today. One of the temptations of being pastoral workers is to believe that we need to respond to all pastoral problems and needs immediately. We tend to feel indispensable and guilty when we are unable to respond.


“The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable people.”   Charles De Gaulle

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have found myself this morning reflecting on the word pastoral. The images that moved in and out of my consciousness where those of people, great people who led and ministered, who loved and nourished, who protected, who encouraged and supported, who knew when to step back in quietness and knew also when to speak up. Each of them knowing their strengths and weaknesses and how to ensure that they themselves were nourished and rested.

    More than a year ago Bishop Gerry Wiesner OMI gave a talk on sheep and shepherds, and I came away from it realising how I am both sheep and shepherd. I am quite unable to be either in a way that is life-giving if I am not myself nourished and rested. God created me a human rather than a ‘super god’. As Eugene found out in his own life, more than once, we need to be able to let god be god and ourselves be human.

    When I take care of myself then I will also be able to care for others. And like those earlier Oblates I need to be reminded of this over and over again.

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